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Hauling A Horse? The Mandate That May Require You To Get A Commercial Drivers License!

May 16th, 2018 by Simone Cobb

You thought you were involved in the horse industry? It seems the Federal Government may actually define you as a commercial truck driver.

According to the Commercial Drivers License law written in 1986, anyone driving a vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds and above is required to carry a CDL whether it’s for recreational or agricultural purposes. So you might have to go sit for your commercial license test just to haul your horses to a show!

Protect The Harvest Representative, Shawn Burtenshaw

Shawn Burtenshaw, a Representative for Protect the Harvest, explains how the CDL law requirements plus a 2012 Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate could affect how you travel, but is here to educate and help you!

“The law that was implemented [in 2012], which would be referred to as the ‘ELD Mandate,’ is an electronic device put in your vehicle to monitor your drive times between point A and point B and throughout the day,” Burtenshaw said. “So if you’re in a pickup and horse trailer traveling, hauling horses to shows it’s your business… it puts you as a commercial driver to where you’d have to have an electronic logging device in your pickup to haul your horses to shows.”

SO not only would you be required to carry a commercial drivers license, but you would also be required to log your trips and abide by ELD rules. However, advancements in vehicles and the hauling industry have changed vastly since these were written, creating a few complicated issues.

“The problem is this law was written in 1986, when a one-ton pickup was 8600 pounds,” Burtenshaw said. “It was never intended to umbrella over pickups and trailers but today when this is enforced through, the ELD really brought attention to these weights because the law is still at 26,001 pounds; which in 1986 was a Class 7 truck, today it’s a pickup. Gross vehicle weight ratings since 1986 to 2018 have increased 60% but the law stayed the same so that’s where people get caught in it with a pickup and horse truck.”

Adding to the complexity are states that have different regulations and classifications of a CDL, where in some states it’s a simple process, while in others it is extremely difficult.

“We’d like to see that not happen because these people are not commercial drivers, they’re horse trainers, they’re rodeo cowboys, they’re ranchers, they’re farmers, they’re not a commercial driver,” Burtenshaw said. “So why should they need to go get a CDL and be monitored the same as a over-the-road truck driver when they’re just driving their horse to a horse show?”

Another issue that will place an onerous burden on drivers is the tracking and monitoring that o

Electronic Logging Devices (above) required for commercial drivers to log all stops and track drive times, and requires breaks after certain amounts of driving.

ccurs with the electronic logging device.

“It is extreme inconvenience,” Burtenshaw said. “It becomes a personal issue of privacy to tell you the truth, I don’t want to be monitored how fast I’m going, where I’ve stopped, how long I’ve stopped. I don’t want to be told when I need to stop and use the restroom, I don’t need to be told when I need to stop and eat, I don’t need to be told when I stop and sleep. The hours of service that you have to comply by when you have an electronic logging device in your pickup and you have live animals on your trailer, you can’t stop for ten hours consecutively, you have to keep going.”

From December of 2017, there is a 12-month exemption to the rule for agriculture when live animals are being transported.

“So that means that hopefully within the coming year that maybe different hours of service can be written,” Burtenshaw said. “These laws need review because it’s not 1986 anymore. The biggest thing I’m trying to do right now at Protect The Harvest are get people engaged and get them educated to where they’re going to fall in this mandate or these CDL requirements, what classifies them as a commercial motor vehicle.”

On the Protect The Harvest website it also states that a “Not For Hire” sign on your rig will not protect you if it is determined that your truck and trailer fit into the commercial category or are being used for commercial purposes. Nor will it protect you if you are driving a vehicle and trailer that requires a commercial license. The law also affects young drivers and will put the brakes on anyone under 18 hauling a horse or anyone under 21 crossing state lines to go a rodeo or show.

“To be intrastate (within your state) you have to be 18 years-old to get a commercial drivers license and to go interstate (to cross state lines) you have to be 21 years old. 87% of the college rodeo kids are under the age of 21 and every college rodeo around the United States kids have to cross across state lines,” he said.

If the mandate alarms you, Burtneshaw said go to protecttheharvest.com and read the highlighted version of the 200 page mandate, which has been narrowed down to the key points. Another suggestion is to spread the word and lobby your local representatives.

“Call your congressman, get a hold of your senator, get everybody in government whose connected to you, because those government officials work for you,” Burtenshaw said. “Let them know where you stand on these issues, let them know that these need review. The more people who write their letters, call their representatives, make some noise about it to get this changed.”

“It’s laws like this that keep restricting our industry. Usually it happens and nobody knew about this..well we’re gonna tell you right now it’s happening,” Burtenshaw said. “Please take action, get involved, become engaged, voice your opinion, and help us move forward with getting this rewritten.”


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